Hello Polite Readers!
Happy New Year and welcome to 2014! I am pretty excited for this year and I am looking forward to answering your letters (here's a not-so-subtle hint that you should write to me at Politelyworded@gmail.com). I'd like to start this year with some ideas on how to be more polite in general in the New Year. Whether or not you're big on resolutions (I'm not), the start of the year is as good a time as any to make some positive changes in your life and how you interact with those around you.
Let's start with the easiest one... Please, thank you and you're welcome said with sincerity. It's such a simple thing to do but it really makes people feel respected. When I work retail, I'm always much happier to help the customers who use these words as opposed to those who order me around. And while we're on the subject, I often find that when a cashier or other employee says to me "Hi, How are you?" and I respond in kind, they're strangely surprised and pleased by this small display of manners. So take a moment to acknowledge the people who help you.
Next, take steps to appear more polite in your on-line correspondence. Often we come across as rude or angry when we're firing off a quick response. Taking the time to think about your response and phrasing it politely can work wonders. For instance, respond to a text that says "How about dinner at 6pm?" with "Fine." comes across as angry even if you don't mean it that way, but "Cool" or "Sounds great!" come across as more positive.
Look for instances in your life to be a little more polite to people, whether it's holding the door open for someone behind you, or offering to help someone struggling to reach the high shelf in the store, or letting someone else grab the primo parking spot.
Now for the biggie... one by one, work on your "triggers" for rude behavior. I think a lot of us have things that make us see red and forget our manners. Now, I am not ever going to suggest that you should lie down and take an insult, or not react when someone does something wrong. I'm instead going to suggest that you look for good ways to channel your annoyance into a reasonable response. Take some time to come up with some good stock responses to a situation. Maybe even practice them with a friend as a roleplaying scenario. Depending on what makes you angry, you may need to spend some time researching it (ie, if you get angry about seeing dogs left out in bad weather, research who you can report it to, stats that you can use to convince people not to do it, groups in your area that volunteer with abandoned dogs, etc etc). I promise you'll feel pretty awesome about yourself when a nasty situation springs up in real life and you handle it with a cool head and put the offender in their place.
Oh, and one more thing, don't forget to be polite to yourself! Don't beat yourself up over your mistakes or flaws. Nobody's perfect and we're all a work in progress. Forgive yourself and just try to do better in the future.